Well-being Word

June 7, 2024

The Well-being Word

Erin Herrera, CRNA
Erin Herrera, CRNA
Associate Vice-Chair of Well-Being

Hello friends!

Channel your inner cicada this summer, shout loud, and celebrate to support all of the incredible, diverse folks here in WUDA!

June is Pride Month, a month when we get to colorfully honor the LQBTQIA+ community. July is Disability Pride Month, a time when we can all show up loudly and proudly as allies.

There are so many ways to show up as an ally for others and ensure that everyone feels welcome, valued, and respected as a member of the team. Participating in educational events and showing engaged support at celebratory events is so important.

I hope you have had an opportunity to attend some of the Disability and Pride Month programming here at WashU and within the community. Ensure you check the WUDA website and socials often to stay up-to-date on the fantastic programming offered.

When developing well-being initiatives in the department, I often use the surgeon’s general framework for well-being at work. One of the framework’s essential aspects is the need for connection, community, and belonging. Positive social interactions, relationships, and networks can help promote feelings of belonging, help us better understand each other, and learn how to best support each other. We all have a social responsibility to better our world and ensure inclusivity.

We have many social events planned here in WUDA in the coming months. Whether it is attending one of our large-scale, family-friendly events, such as the soccer game, or one of our small, more introvert-friendly events, like a book club, we have an opportunity to find a community that is right for you.

It’s that time of year when we have a lot of new faces joining us in WUDA. I encourage you to come and meet some new teammates, foster some new connections, and learn more about people and the amazing uniqueness of each of us.

Yours in Wellness,



Peers in Anesthesiology Supporting a Fair Environment (PIA SAFE) is a peer-based program in the Department of Anesthesiology aimed to help address concerns about negative behaviors, conflicts, and microaggressions experienced by members of the department.

A Day in the Life of Brian Torres, CRNA, DNP

Meet Brian Torres, a CRNA in the Department of Anesthesiology, and also the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, a collaboration between WashU Anesthesiology and Barnes-Jewish College of Nursing. Brian’s clinical practice focuses on anesthesia for cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. In his role as faculty, his teaching focuses on anesthetic pharmacology, preoperative health assessment, simulation, and the basic principles of anesthesiology. Read on to learn more about a typical day for Brian.

A Day in the Life of Brian Torres

As a CRNA in the department and faculty with the Nurse Anesthesia Program my work week is split between time spent in the OR and time spent at the Barnes-Jewish College of Nursing. To get the best sense of what a day-in-the-life is like I’ve provided a version of each!

OR Day:

04:30 – Alarm goes off, immediately hit snooze.

04:39 – Alarm goes off, immediately hit snooze.

04:48 – Alarm goes off again, begrudgingly get out of bed and head downstairs to feed the dogs and get the coffee going.

04:45-05:30 – Coffee, review cases and patients for the day, read up on current events, chat with Steven about the day, dinner plans, etc. Get dogs out for a quick walk around the block.

05:30-06:30 – Clean up and head to the hospital. Depending on the weather and the day, I either ride my Vespa, take the #8 bus, or sometimes I will drive the car. We live in the Shaw neighborhood, which is about 2.2 miles from door to door.

06:30a-23:30a – It’s a Wednesday so first I need to set up my OR, but often I am working with one of our SRNAs and they have everything already set up! I head to Grand Rounds in the Wohl Auditorium, grab another cup of coffee, get a big warm hug from Maureen Arends (Mo give the absolute best hugs, she is the best!!) and a bite to eat and settle in for some current science or professional development.

Clinically, I have been working primarily in Pod 3 (these days that’s CT/Vascular/Cath Lab) since I started (back in 2013). I love Pod 3 and all the people in it…it truly feels like home. I am currently working the 16-hour clinical shift (07:00-23:00) and because of that I have been doing cases outside of Pod 3 more often. I have really been enjoying getting into the other Pods and doing cases that I have not routinely done for a long time. It’s been especially fun to take over long TIVA cases and figure out how to wake them up most efficiently (thank you EPIC TIVA simulator i.e. stanpumpr.io)! I spend a decent amount of my clinical shifts starting out in the Cath Lab where we provide anesthesia for pacemaker insertions, EP ablations, TEEs, TAVRs, and a variety of vascular procedures.

If I am working with an SRNA that day, we will go over any additional details or plans for our anesthetic and touch-base with the rest of the team. I love it when I get to work with the SRNAs. If the SRNA is early in their clinical training it’s so fun to bring the topics we lecture on in the classroom to life in real-world applications, to see them putting all the pieces together. If the SRNA I’m working with is further along in their training, it is so rewarding to see their growth and how they demonstrate their competence. I am always impressed with their drive, dedication, and professionalism, we have the very best SRNAs in the country!

23:30-00:00 – Get home, shut down the house, and get to bed as soon as possible. It’s been a long day!

College Day:

05:30 – Alarm goes off, immediately hit snooze.

05:39 – Alarm goes off again, I get up.

05:45-06:30 – Coffee, review calendar for the day, reflect on any scheduled meetings or lectures coming up, read up on current events, chat with Steven about the day, dinner plans, etc.

06:30-07:30 – Head to Tower Grove Park for a walk, a full lap around the park ends up being about 3.6 miles and takes anywhere from 55-65 minutes depending on the pace. I love starting my day out this way and do it whenever I can.

07:30-08:00 – Clean up and head to Barnes-Jewish College’s Goldfarb School of Nursing. Again, I will moped in if the weather is good otherwise, it’s the #8 bus or the car. The college is located on the same campus as the medical school and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

08:00-17:00 – Get to work as a member of the Nurse Anesthesia Program faculty at Barnes-Jewish College (I also serve as the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program). I spend 3-4 days per week at the college and my workload at the college is highly varied from day to day. Depending on the term (spring, summer, or fall) I will be teaching a variety of classes, they include: Advanced Health Assessment for Nurse Anesthesia, Basic Principles of Anesthesia #2, Advanced Pharmacology and Anesthesia, and Clinical Correlations Seminar. Our program offers a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (a clinical doctorate that focuses on the translation of science into clinical practice).

My days at the college are structured based on the following: college committee meetings, anesthesiology department meetings, meetings with faculty & students, course lectures, and course simulations. When I am not in meetings or teaching, I am usually spending time working on aspects of the academic program operations, grading exams or papers, or updating my lectures and exams.

No day is the same at the college or in the OR, I consider myself very lucky in this way. For me, the dynamic quality of both roles provides me with a sense of variation that keeps me on my toes and always learning something new.

17:00-17:30 – Wrap up things at the college including thinking about what needs to get done the next day. Head home to see Steven and the fur kids! We have two dogs (Fox Hound and Miniature Pincher) and a cat.

17:30-18:30 – Time to decompress. For me this means cooking dinner. I love cooking and how it requires my attention but also gives this time where I have a fun and rewarding task where my brain can sort through some of the things it’s grappling with.

18:30-19:30 – We have dinner and catch up on the latest with one another, our friends and families, and of course the household operations, etc!

19:30-21:00 – After dinner we load the dishwasher and head to the living room for some couch time with the fur kids. We typically watch the local or national news followed by either a series that has caught our interest or for some light entertainment, American Ninja Warrior or The Weakest Link or The Amazing Race!

21:00 – It’s bedtime, lock up and shut down the house and lights out till tomorrow where I anticipate the first task of everyday…hitting the snooze button at least once or twice!

Happy Pride Month!

Pride Month is a time to uplift and celebrate the freedom of LGBTQ+ individuals to live authentically. Everyone in the LGBTQ+ community deserves to feel affirmed, safe, supported, joyful, and mentally healthy.

Pride Month events
Highlights from the Spring Inclusion Symposium 

WashU staff, faculty, trainees, students, St. Louis community members, and business leaders gathered on Tuesday, May 21, at the Eric P. Newman Education Center (EPNEC) for the inaugural Spring Inclusion Symposium, hosted by the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

WUSM Juneteenth Jubilee

In recognition of Juneteenth, the WUSM Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is hosting a campus celebration on Friday, June 21st from 11am – 2pm in FLTC Hearth!

WashU Night with St. Louis CITY2

Catch a St. Louis CITY2 match, the MLS NEXT Pro team, with your colleagues, friends and family!

Join friends, family and colleagues at CITYPARK to watch CITY2 on June 23 & Aug. 25, 2024.

Charl de Wet Piano Recital

For those who were unable to join Charl’s Piano Recital or for those who would like to relive the beautiful performance, a recording of the recital is now available.

Supporting LGBTQ+ employees and families this Pride Month and beyond

It’s Pride Month! Let’s celebrate the vibrant lives and achievements of LGBTQ+ individuals and also acknowledge the steps many take every day toward better mental health. Below are resources from Calm’s Belonging and Acceptance collection that focus on helping people celebrate individuality, cultivate self-esteem, and lean into vulnerability to create connection and belonging.

  • To My Body and to Teenage Me, Sleep Story
    • In this lighthearted essay, author and narrator Edgar Gomez finds an inner-confidence in a space that created a lot of former insecurity.  
  • Spot the Napkin, Sleep Story
    • Jess Tom, an actor, writer, and stand-up comic who identifies as trans, queer, and Asian American, invites you to find out what happens in the kitchen while you’re asleep–and how one napkin used determination and their differences to better a kitchen community.
  • Coming Out, Meditation Series
    • Coming out of the Closet, Learning to Love Ourselves, and Working with Shame are a few of the sessions in this six-part series by mindfulness leader Lama Rod Owens, who identifies as a Black, queer man.
  • Love and Acceptance, Daily Meditation
    • In this guided meditation, Tamara Levitt, Head of Mindfulness at Calm, helps you feel your stress and then shift to a place of patience, loving-kindness, and self-compassion.
The Well-developed Podcast

It is difficult to learn and perform well when you are not at your best. The Well-developed Podcast is a space to validate, normalize, and explore the ways we bring our whole selves to work. Learn how to capitalize on your own unique strengths, preferences, and sense of self to improve and develop your well-being!

Have an idea for a podcast topic? Share your suggestions using the form at the bottom of our webpage. Thanks for influencing our podcast’s evolution!

Take 2 for the Team

Introducing “Take 2 for the Team,” a new initiative and app designed to promote gratitude and positivity among our anesthesiology department’s team members. This digital peer-to-peer gratitude program encourages us all to take just 2 minutes each day to acknowledge and express gratitude towards a fellow team member.

You can find the app on our departmental INTRAnet, making it accessible to everyone in the department. Using the app is a breeze —simply compose a thank-you note, and your heartfelt “Thank You!” will be sent directly to your colleague’s inbox.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate our colleagues and their contributions to our well-being and happiness.